Thursday, 31 May 2012

STOP PRESS: Robert Redford More Likely To Provide Nighttime Relief Than Amber Teething Necklaces

A supplier of Amber Teething Necklaces on Ebay, Wee Rascals, has had to recall some of their products due to safety concerns, I learnt today. The company has recalled all of its necklaces and ankle bracelets for babies and children, because they failed a safety test instigated by the Buckinghamshire County Council Trading Standards Department.

The tests found that, “The product failed to satisfy BS EN71-1:2011 (Safety of toys – part 1: mechanical and physical properties) when tested in accordance with paragraph 8.7 (Impact Test), in that several beads shattered and detached. The bead fragments fitted wholly inside the small parts cylinder of dimensions specified in paragraph 8.2. These components pose a potential choking/inhalation hazard to a child under 36 months.”

How do I know this? Because I bought one of the damn things, and like many of the various bits of baby tat I've been suckered into purchasing over the years, it turned out to be a complete waste of money.

Of course, like most suckers parents, I bought it in a state of sleep deprived desperation. A few other mothers had told me they really worked, so I thought it was worth a punt, and would willingly have spent ten times more than the tenner it cost me in the hope of a good night's sleep.

But the more I thought about it, the stronger the smell of BS became. Firstly, the anecdotal evidence was meaningless, particularly when you consider that 'teething', a bit like, 'colic', is a bit of a catch-all term used to describe a variety of inexplicable baby troubles, from sleeplessness, to fractiousness, to constant sucking, to wanting to be held 24/7. All very real, all very hard work, all very normal baby behaviour. And all, as every mother knows, liable to disappear as quickly and inexplicably as they came - thus anyone who claims that a necklace has 'fixed' them isn't really thinking very analytically.

Then I read this article, which quite rightly points out that, if the necklaces actually do work by by releasing succinic acid, an analgesic, into the skin as many claim, this isn't necessarily very safe either, as just because a medicine is perceived as 'alternative' or 'natural', this doesn't make it safe in random and uncontrolled doses. Add to this the safety concern of a necklace on a baby, that in some cases, such as Wee Rascals, even has to be recalled, and it's starting to sound less and less like a good idea.

But what really put an end to the fad for me was the look of them: on some babies they seemed cute, but on mine, I couldn't help feeling it looked a bit tacky, and that I might as well have got myself a complementary slogan tee-shirt that read: I've Got A Bad Case of The Emperor's New Clothes, or perhaps a more brief and simple: Baa.

Amber Teething Necklaces made a sheep out of me, and thousands of other usually intelligent and well-read parents, desperate enough for a few hours sleep to part with their hard earned cash and even put their baby at risk.

If you're struggling with a teething baby, and looking for an alternative approach, why not try this method instead. Picture a young Robert Redford, in a shit hot cowboy outfit, stepping towards you in the dry heat of a small desert town at cocktail hour. Looking up at you from under the brim of his hat he drawls:

"I'm sorry lady. There ain't no fix for it. You're just gonna have to ride it out."

There. That'll make you smile at 4am.

Bon courage. This too will pass.


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22 comments:

  1. Hear hear! I can't tell you how relieved I am to read this, although I'm sure you won't be popular for having written it. I too was suckered into the Amber necklace thing, against my better wisdom and usual shunning of anything like it. But I was desperate and figured that either way it would look pretty on my daughter. It did look pretty, but of course it didn't help at all (as in my heart of hearts I knew it wouldn't). Anyway, it's lost now. And in time the teething subsided by itself. I hate the fact lots of parents fall into these traps.

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    1. Thanks Radical Ramblings, not too unpopular I hope! x

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  2. Huzzah! Nice to have some sense about the bloody things. I feel I may have my crunchy credentials revoked if I ever say what I really think. Fortunately I found that sceptic on blog too when I was considering purchasing one for 'teething' ds a few months ago. Non-crunchy kiddy ibuprofen, with it's damn evidence base and everything, seems to work well!
    Thanks, as always, Muley lady, for speaking sense.

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    1. Ha ha, very funny comment Ellie! x

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  3. I love how at the top of your blog there is an ad with 50% off amber teething necklaces. Sorry, had to laugh. X

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    1. Ha ha Emma, sorry about that, that is funny! I have of course blocked the formula ones but the amber ones have slipped through! x

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  4. I love love love what you are up to on your blog!

    It’s so important that this information/mindset becomes part of the dominant birth culture.

    I wrote this and I thought you might like it. It seems to fit well with the meaningful birth wisdom you are spreading.

    BIRTHING FROM LOVE DECLARATION

    We find ourselves in a time where the culture of childbirth is at a crossroads.

    It’s time to choose which path we will take.

    And so…

    We choose the path that empowers, supports, and advocates for childbirth to be grounded in love.

    We are loyal to the path that allows women to be empowered by birth and not traumatized by it.

    And so we know…

    The time has come to dissolve the ideology that has brought us to the point where women live in fear of the birthing process and under the tyranny of scathing judgment about how they bring their children into the world. This oppression of judgment has kept us from seeing the truth about ourselves. We are in this together.

    It doesn’t matter where a woman chooses to give birth: in a hospital, a warm water tub, or a sacred hut in the Himalayas—it is time for us to embrace a woman’s choice to birth where she wants to birth.

    It is time for us to support women in taking control of their birthing experiences—not the rigid, inflexible control that springs from fear, but the wise, empowered control that’s rooted in love. With that control, giving birth becomes an act of joy, of self-discovery, and of profound self-expression.

    And so we declare…

    Birth, more than any other experience, has the potential to transform the world. It is time that we support women in experiencing birth as a peaceful, positive, and powerful event.

    Birth has the potential to be the most powerful driving force on the planet. The healing of birth will surely change the world.

    We must reframe the way we conceptualize birth. We must share this wisdom with the world.

    Birth is something to be embraced—not controlled.

    Birth is something to be welcomed—not dreaded.

    Birth is something to be loved—not feared.

    And so we call…

    To those who know that our world is deeply influenced by the way we bring our children into the world.

    To those who are ready for audacious steps towards changing the culture of birth.

    To those who are ready to dedicate themselves to all the women of birth who feel like they’ve lost their way to the hurt, the fear, the judgment, the shame, the blame, the trauma.

    To those who know we are stronger together.

    And so we unite…

    Although we cannot control the choices of those around us, we have faith that the pursuit of Birthing From Love is a noble, meaningful, and powerful one.

    And for the support of this declaration, we pledge to each other our time, passion, energy, and wisdom.

    For the love of birth.

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    1. Thanks so much for this fantastic comment Gemma, although I wonder if you meant to leave it on a different post! I love it anyway, and am about to share in on my FB page...! Thank you x

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  5. Ha! I'm sorry you bought something that ended up being faulty. That is very scary.

    I used an amber necklace on my baby, and for whatever reason, her molars came through without a peep.

    Perhaps she has a high tolerance for pain.

    It always saddens me when people are afraid to put forward their opinions, because the crowd they run in may not "approve". We all have to make the best choices for ourselves and really shouldn't be peering over at other people hoping to fit a certain mould. But we are human, so of course we do....

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    1. Yes, I must admit, I didn't really think about whether my view would go with or against the 'crunchy' flow when I wrote this, I was just telling my own story and view, prompted by the recall... but of course, if the amber works for you, or anyone else, then that's great! Whatever gets you through the night, is alright, as John Lennon said! x

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  6. You have a point, I hate how they look on my baby she's had them on for 9 months! But haven't had any teething problems at all, as in I've had to see the tooth to know ones comes through. I've been too afraid to take the damn thing off, I really should be brave, what's the worst that could happen - oh all the things you hear about teething!

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    1. I was the same Anon, and got scared to take it off for a while! But go for it, you can always put it on again if you get really desperate!
      Please note this is the authors opinion and does not constitute medical advice.
      ;-)

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  7. I'm so relieved to read your blog.
    I haven't purchased an amber teething necklace for my son because
    I thought he might look a little silly
    I own an amber necklace myself and he broke it (it's not for teething it's for looking pretty)
    I'd heard there were some safety concerns
    I was worried that like the homeopathic teething powder I folked out for it might be a load of BS.

    I've been hanging my head in shame at baby yoga over my lack of crunchiness but feel it's been restored. Thanks!
    SO it appears I'm st

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    1. Sorry it's taken so long to reply, I've been being interrupted, and so were you, it seems, in your final sentence! I love the idea of your blog and when I clicked through to it I even thought I might find that you never actually finish any of your posts, but just leave them hanging, mid word or sentence! I really like that idea!

      Maybe your final words were 'still crunchy'?

      If so, I think you are. Being crunchy should really be about being informed, and trying to parent from some sort of evidence base...and if so, why would you follow the mumbo jumbo of ATN's?!

      Thanks for your comme

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  8. Haha I always thought those things were silly and most likely purely placebo - and have said so several times.... never goes down well :P

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    1. No, it really is, as I said, the emperors new clothes!

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  9. Hurrah, it's not just me! Nearly every parent I know uses these.

    This is a really excellent blog post about the (lack of) science behind amber teething necklaces- http://scepticon.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/amber-teething-beads-a-few-points-to-consider/

    Thank you so much for posting this. I'll give the Robert Redford thing a try ;-)

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    1. Thank you!
      I actually linked to that great article in my post, very good stuff.
      Good luck riding it out with Robert. Works for me! ;-) x

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  10. You make some excellent points. The first is that just because it's natural or homeopathic doesn't mean it presents no risk-I see this a lot with those treating with colloidal silver. When they ask me if I do (and why not when I tell them no) it really surprises me that they know nothing about the risks and other things related to treating with colloidal silver. If you know the risks and decide the benefits outweigh the possible risks that's one thing, but to not know the risks and treat...that's not OK. It's up to the parent to read, review, research, and ask questions about traditional medicine as well as homeopathic and natural treatments. There is no exception.

    Secondly, the choking hazard. With all this snazzy and new "teething jewelry" coming out here in the U.S. over the last several months it really bothers me seeing how many of them break the simple rule of having small pieces. These are pieces of jewelry meant to be chewed and pulled on. I see many of them meet special CPSIA regulates but for things like not having sharp edges-NOT for not being a choking hazard. I don't care if the thread they use to make the necklace is weighted at 500lbs, eventually it will wear down, develop weak spots from the strain, or be chewed through and all those pretty little beads can become a significant chocking risk. Things that are geared toward a baby, even if a parent is meant to wear it, ESPECIALLY if they're MEANT for a teething infant to bite and chew on, need to meet the requirements for TEETHING TOYS and TEETHERS.

    Regarding the Baltic Amber, after much research I started using Baltic Amber from Inspired by Finn when my youngest daughter (now 3 years) was teething. It was an absolute sanity saver. I read and researched and bought what I thought was best from the seller I thought was most reputable and safest.

    That necklace helped my daughter so much (so, so much). I do not believe that babies that are a few months old are susceptible to a placebo effect. My belief was if her behaviour was one way before the necklace and another after I put the necklace on her that it was the necklace that contributed to the change in behavior. Those beliefs are what led me to believe that Baltic Amber did work for her. We continued to use it, sometimes regularly and sometimes sporadically on her with good results. We (Daddy and I) were able to tell when she was and not wearing her necklace by her behaviour. The necklace stayed in good condition and was OK even through some pulling or fiddling by her at times.

    When that necklace was mis-placed (I believe it was stolen from me actually, sadly) I bought two more from Inspired by Finn, one to replace my daughter's and one for my new baby to use when he began teething-that's how much I believed in them. When I felt my son was showing signs of teething I put the Baltic Amber Teething necklace on him. There was no change in his behaviour. At nine months old and 6 teeth in with more coming, Baltic Amber has failed to work for him like it has his sister. Why, I don't know but I'm not all bent out of shape about it. I'll hold onto our Baltic Amber necklaces, just in case, but I won't be buying anymore.

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    1. Thanks so much for your very interesting comment.
      I can't explain what happened with your 2 children. If there was some research into a large group that would be interesting to see, however, I'm not aware of any evidence other than anecdotal.
      Well, I bought one myself, so please don't be bent out of shape! I just wish I had thought of the idea myself, someone out there is making a lot of money out of parents like us who are willing to take a gamble and hope for a good night's sleep!
      x

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  11. I also feel strongly about these wretched things, partly because I, too, was suckered in against my better judgement. It's the bloody ubiquity of the things - everyone has one, everyone swears by them. (and they look quite cute, if you can bear jewellery on children.) I got one because my second son was finding teething horrible. It made no difference to his behaviour or symptoms, and because I was worried that he'd catch it on something and strangle himself, I took it off. I then became aware of how likely it is that any one 'amber' teething necklace will be fake. Amber is increasingly imitated and the fakes are more and more convincing. I did the hot needle test on my necklace - it failed. (I now wear it twice round my wrist - it's pretty!) I did wonder whether I should then spend twice as much and try again, but by then the temporary madness had worn off.

    Ellie

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    1. Hi Ellie, thanks for your comment.
      I must try that hot needle test, I suspect mine might fail too! But even if it is the 'real thing'...would it work? And if so how? And could you prove it?

      As we seem to agree....BS!

      x

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